Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

You probably don’t even remember me, but you were the reason I cried myself to sleep that night. You probably can’t even remember what I look like, but I remember how you made us feel. I felt so embarrassed and humiliated that I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. I’m a grown woman, but I wanted to hide myself in a corner and cry. I hope your little moment of amusement was worth it.

We’d had a lovely evening, until we happened upon you. We laughed and chatted with the waiter between courses as we enjoyed a relaxed, romantic meal together on the first evening of our holiday. We held hands and gazed into one another’s eyes as we relished the time alone together; time to relax away from work, and home, and family, and all of the pressures of modern life. We smiled at one another when the waiter addressed us as “ladies”, having the courtesy to correctly gender my partner despite it being obvious she’s in the early stages of transition from male to female.

Transgender. That’s what my partner is. She’s someone who, having been assigned male at birth, spent many years of her life struggling with the feeling that she was being forced to live in a gender she wasn’t comfortable in. Someone who, after having been forced to conform to society’s expectations of how a boy – and then a man – should think, feel and behave, found the courage to be true to herself. It’s nothing to do with her sexual preference, a traumatic childhood or some kinky fetish, it’s who she is.

Stop and think for a moment, you two gentlemen who laughed at us as we were minding our own business. Stop and think how comfortable you would feel stepping out of your front door in a dress, make up and heels. Imagine how it feels to feel that you have no choice but to put yourself out there, in public, with a man’s face and body dressed in women’s clothing. Contemplate how awkward, lonely and potentially dangerous every single mundane task becomes when you have to expose you innermost self in such a public manner, and when you have to dare to be different.  Can you even begin to imagine how crushing it must feel, having tried so hard to look passable and found the courage to face complete strangers dressed in a way that makes you feel both vulnerable and conspicuous, to be laughed at in public by fellow adults? I say “adults”, but really you two were like children in a schoolyard. Children who pick on a child for having the ‘wrong’ trainers, or whose physical abilities are different from yours, or who doesn’t generally conform to your expectations of how other people should be. Please think about what you did: You reduced a grown woman (me) to tears, you tainted our whole evening with your cruelty and you knocked the confidence of two people who’ve spent a very long time trying to develop what little confidence they have. I hope your little joke was worth it.

Perhaps you’ll feel less ashamed or even vindicated when you hear that you weren’t the only people to treat us so badly. Perhaps you’d try to justify your behaviour if you knew that are others out there with similar prejudices, and a similar lack of respect for feelings of others.  Your contemptible behaviour was amateur compared to what we experienced the following evening, when a family of six fellow diners in a restaurant not only mocked us, but took and shared photos for one another to laugh at. Good work, people. This is the monster that a culture of laughing at people who are different creates.

The strength and courage my partner shows on a daily basis amazes me. She faces the same fears, the same prejudices and the same humiliation every day. Every. Single. Day. And yet with each new day, she puts on a brave (and beautifully made-up – I like to take the credit for her excellent make up skills) face and does it all over again. Why does she do it? Because after forty years of feeling forced to pretend to be someone she’s not, she’s finally free to relax and be herself in a way you and I probably take for granted.

She’s brave, my beautiful girl. She’s brave, and funny, and wise, and kind. She shows a generosity of spirit that you so clearly lack; a tolerance and respect for others that you would do well to learn from. She’s not asking for your approval or for your support. She’s simply asking for the respect we all owe to one another; she’s asking to be left to go about her life without being humiliated in public and treated like a freak show. She might, in your eyes, be a man in women’s clothes. She might be different to anyone else you know, and she might have made choices in her life that you cannot even begin to understand. She might be all of those things, but she’s not a coward or a bully, and so I’d rather be her than you any day of the week.



Comments on: "Guest post: To The People Who Laughed" (24)

  1. This has made me cry so much. A brave and beautifully written response to something so completely ugly. It’s unbelievable to me that some people seem to think they are entitled to inflict embarrassment and hurt on others who don’t conform to what they think is ‘normal’.
    Being strong can’t be easy when doing something as simple as eating a meal can end up in humiliation.
    Fortunately, the assholes are in a minority but they are always the ones you remember.

  2. Made my eyes leak. a lovely post, I can only hope that one day people wise up, and that until then, at least sometimes you find lovely people (like the waiter) to accept and to behave like grownups around you. Also maybe posts like this will help others to stand up to the stupid bullying.

  3. As Troi said above, this is a beautifully written piece of something that occurred that sounds terribly ugly. I hope you find some comfort in knowing the responses here. x

  4. Reblogged this on meebee moments's blog and commented:
    What an amazingly honest blog

  5. What a nice waiter.

  6. what a beautiful post. I truly wish you both the best for the future, nobody deserves to be treated appallingly just because they are ‘different’. Different is unique, different is beautiful xx

  7. You could be my mother. My father is in the same position as your partner. My parents do what you two do. I hate people laughing about it, or saying that they are ‘freaks’ or whatever. Yes, it is weird. But it doesn’t mean it is a joke. Not everybody changes gender, because for most of us, we are lucky to be happy in our own skin. I feel for our transgender members. I can’t imagine what it must feel like. I know for my father, when she ‘came out’, I felt a wave of relief. It made sense, why things had been the way they were. Why my dad disappeared without a trace (he couldn’t face being a man and had ‘breakdowns’), why my dad wore womens clothes. I love my new dad. The female dad. And yes, she is still my dad. Just much happier.
    Much love to you and your partner. It is a long road (for my dad, we are about 4 years of knowing and still waiting on gender reassignment) but it will be worth it, I’m sure. x

  8. Good for you for writing this and refusing to be bullied by ignorant idiots. Wishing you and your partner every happiness in life.

  9. As above, good for you for writing this, you both sound amazing women, what inner strength, wishing you and your partner the happiness you deserve

  10. Moving words. It is wise for all us parents to remember that our attitudes will influence todays children in the playground, who could grow up to be those adults in the future. Let’s hope we can make the world an easier place for such delicate and difficult transitions. Stay strong x

  11. I hope as your partner goes further through her transition she can find the confidence to ignore these nasty bullies and people like them. Both she and you have shown more courage and fortitude than most of us will ever have to. Wherever this path leaves you both, I hope happiness will be yours one day. Ignorance is bliss – those idiots must be very happy.

  12. Amazing post! So brave.
    I find it difficult to believe that some people can really be that cruel to others… but sadly, on a daily basis people show that they are in fact *that* unkind.
    I am sorry that someone made you feel like this xx

  13. So sorry this happened to you and your partner. Please know there are more decent, kind people in this world. Facing the world when you are different takes such courage. I know this because I am different too. How fabulous that you have each other, hold each other’s hand and walk proudly out into the world again.

  14. I have a transgender teen so have some understanding of the strength your partner is showing. I wish her every happiness in the future and I am confident your support is helping her to cope with what lies ahead.

  15. Reblogged this on The Opinionated Imp and commented:
    A beautiful post that everyone should read. Think who you want your be in this post.

  16. Hi. I hope you don’t mind but I reblogged this. It should be read by everyone. Your partner is brave and wonderful and so are you for standing besides her.

  17. Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to say thank you to Sam for hosting my post (and for her friendship), and to all of you who’ve left messages of encouragement and support. I can’t tell you how much people like you – people who are kind and accepting – help us to keep on going. Thank you.

  18. An excellent post. I am so sorry you have had these experiences. Like you, I find that in these situations, the only thing to think is ‘thank goodness I am not that stupid, ignorant and inconsiderate!’.

  19. Hi, I’m sorry to hear you and your partner have had such a poor experience recently. It is a shame to hear some mindless, insensitive fools felt the right to ridicule your partner whilst you were both clearly out minding your own business and trying to have a good time. In my experience these types of people generally don’t have much intelligence and are incapable of even trying to understand the struggle your partner must be going through. I believe in karma and I hope that this comes around on these people the way it should in the near future. You two stay strong, society can be very cruel but remember not all people are like this and there are folks out there who are understanding of your journey. I hope it didn’t ruin your holiday, stay strong and take care!

  20. pwelcome said:

    Unfortunately there are many who probably because something is lacking in their lives feel the need to be unnecessarily unpleasant. The fact you obviously care for each other should be much more meaningful. I tell my children when complemented accept it gracefully, when insulted, smile and without using words “reflect” it back to sender.

  21. Easier said than done: but someone should photograph/film these bullies in action and pass the evidence to the police.

  22. A beautifully written post.
    I hope one day that we will all be able to embrace each other for who we are.
    We all have one thing in common. We are all human beings.
    Educate the ignorant. X

  23. This is a fantastic post and I can only imagine how difficult it is for both of you to cope with such narrow minded people. I’m glad I struck up a conversation with you on FB and I wish you both the very best of luck xx

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